Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Vision to values: Mission and value proposition, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- At LinkedIn, we clearly delineate between vision and mission, and the mission is a singular, overarching objective, measurable, realizable and, hopefully, inspirational. But it's not anchored on inspiration. It's anchored on being realizable and measurable. I like to say singular, oftentimes, you'll see organizations and teams define a mission. And they end up having trouble focusing on just one thing. So what are they doing their mission statement? What word do they like to add? And, and how many and's will they sometimes add? So we're going to do X, and we're going to do Y, and we're going to do Z, And for good measure, I think we're going to do X prime. And they'll just keep going. And, so, sometimes people will show you their mission statements and they're super excited and proud and it's like a paragraph long, and you're like, that's not one thing. That's not a singular objective. The other challenge I think some organizations run into, is it's not measurable. They'll come up with this hugely ambitious mission that sometimes feels more like a vision and you say, "How are you going to measure that," and get a blank stare back. Because that's not really how they were thinking about it. But this is a wonderful opportunity. Okay, so that's the mission statement (clears throat). One of the things for both vision and mission that I think is so important is that it's somewhat unique to your organization. In your case, it's somewhat unique to your teams. What oftentimes happens with mission and vision statements, they become almost generic. And they're so kind of high level. And they're so broad-based, that they don't mean as much as they could, if they're more specific to a specific and unique organization, so keep that in the back of your head. So try to reduce, we have an and statement in ours, you're all familiar with it. Connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful it's one and I feel like it's still one cogent statement. But what's what's nice about our mission and certainly our vision at this point is if you were to ask people, not only our own employees, but even those that kind of follow the industry or follow LinkedIn, I think they could tell you our mission and our vision. And this is part of the inherent strength in terms of taking the time to codify mission vision, repeat it, communicate it, use every opportunity to ensure that people know that's what you're about. One of the coolest things that's happened over the progression of our history and our scale is that at some point many years ago, we started going from situations where we were interviewing candidates and trying to help educate them on our mission and vision, what we were trying to accomplish to candidates self-selecting into LinkedIn, getting an interview, and saying one of the reasons I'm here is because I'm so excited about your vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. And you hear those words, and it's like music, and that's power, right? It's not just your own employees. It's not just people within the company. It's also constituents outside of your company. And many of our customers could also tell you what we're trying to accomplish in terms of our vision as well. Okay, so, we've established the vision, which is the dream, we've established the mission singular, overarching, and measurable realizable goal, clearly distinctive from one another. So once those are in place at the highest level, you then turn to your core value proposition and some organizations, their mission and value propositions are actually the same. And listen, to the extent you can introduce fewer concepts and fewer words, people will be able to internalize it that much more easily and be able to understand it and act upon it and cascade it. Less is more in the case of vision to values, but I do think there's oftentimes opportunities to distinguish between your value proposition and your mission statement. Your value proposition, simply put, is the benefit or advantage that you're trying to create for your customer or your end user. And this was a real journey for us at LinkedIn over time. For years, we didn't clearly establish our core value propositions, and I think we were prioritizing business objectives before we were valuing these core value propositions, the value that we were trying to create for the end user, the member, the customer. And when you do that, when you prioritize a business objective over a core value proposition, what risk do you run? Short-term success, but it's mortgaging the long-term future. That's exactly what happens, it's unsustainable. It's unsustainable unless you have some structural advantage over your competition, even then, you're going to run into all kinds of other issues. So what you want to ensure (clears throat) is that you start with the end user, that you understand their unmet needs, and that you think about the ways you can uniquely satisfy those unmet needs, develop products and services that create value for them. And then business objectives flow from that, and not the other way around. We are a members-first organization, it has served us incredibly well. I'll get to that at towards the end when we cover values. So in a sense, implicitly, we've always talked about our member first, explicitly member first, implicitly the value proposition, but without stating it clearly, what value we're trying to create for our end users, you end up with a lot of debates. You end up with questions about prioritization, you end up with people developing products and services who don't know where to start and don't know how to focus on one thing versus another. Don't know how to measure success, don't know how to evaluate quality, don't know where to begin to innovate and improve those products and services. That all emanates from clearly stated value propositions. For us, we have one for the company, it's to connect to opportunity. That's it, that's our overarching value proposition. To connect to opportunity, to connect to our members, connect customers, to opportunity. We do draw a distinction between members and customers with regard to the members to help advance their careers and, with regard to the customers, it's to help them work smarter, Hire, market, sell and learn. And once we started to orient the company, that started about five years ago, once we started to orient the company around these value propositions and then, similar to what we're talking about earlier with mission and vision, there are specific value propositions that nest underneath these, these are very high-level. We started to establish measurable goals that would manifest these value propositions, and we started to put those first. And then our business objectives flowed from our ability to achieve these value propositions.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.